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It's been just over a month since ATI unveiled its X1900 series. A quick fire replacement for the delayed X1800, it has quickly established itself as the fastest graphics part on the block. Despite this, a bunch of slightly crazy hardcore overclockers (is there any other sort) have been pushing the envelope by supercooling the cards with liquid nitrogen in order to achieve super fast scores in 3DMark.
Even without this extreme behaviour, the X1900 has been breaking records in its standard air cooled fashion. Its specs are unimpeachable. As featured on the X1800, it offers a ring-bus memory architecture and 512MB of GDDR RAM, married to greater horsepower derived from its 48 pixel shader processors, along with 16 texture units, eight Vertex Shaders and 16 ROPs. This gives it a much greater advantage in processing pixel shaders, which are becoming increasingly important in games.
Built-on a 90 nanometre micron process, which ATI has been using since the X1800, the X1900 series can hit the clock speed heights of 650MHz for the core and 1,550MHz for the memory and cards clocked at these speeds have the suffix XTX. Cards labelled XT offer slightly lower clocks of 625MHz for the core and 1,450MHz for the memory and the price is slighlty lower. At the time of writing, at Overclockers.co.uk, there was a £47 difference between the Powercolor XTX and the XT.
In our original test we reviewed the X1900 in Crossfire mode and later followed this up with a review of an XTX. Now we can bring you the scores of a single XT and see how it compares to an XTX and a GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB. Is the XTX worth the extra £50 or so extra over the XT and can NVIDIA still compete?
The card we used for testing is a retail box PowerColor X1900 XT. The box is sensibly sized and the artwork thankfully free of the immature gaming characters that litter competitors packaging. Pleasingly, no erroneous marketing claims have made their way onto the box either as happened with some of the XTX boxes we saw in our recent round-up.
The card itself looks like any other reference XTX or XT with a large dual-slot cooler, which isn’t the quietest when under load, especially compared to the cooler NVIDIA employed on its 7800 GTX 512. There are two dual-link DVI ports at the back giving you dual 30-inch monitor goodness if your wallet and your desk were so inclined. There are two DVI to VGA converters included if you are still using CRTs.
Cable wise the bundle is standard for the X1900 cards. One dongle offers VIVO, S-Video and composite input and output along with corresponding extension cables, while another cable offers Component outputs for connection to larger LCD and Plasma TVs that don’t have DVI. A Molex to six-pin PCI Express power connector is included for those PSUs that don’t have one with a Molex pass through.
The CD contains a flurry of CyberLink DVD applications including PowerDVD, but the serial number is on the CD, not the on the CD sleeve, which is a pain when installing. MusicMatch is also included. However, these are basic versions and you’ll have to pay to upgrade to full versions.
A quick start guide and a user manual are included as is a rather flimsy leaflet stating the requirements for CrossFire power supplies.